December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013 Column Father De Celles

The Lord is Near. We are now in the last days of Advent, the final time to prepare for Christmas. I know there’s an awful lot going on in the next few days: last minute shopping, wrapping and mailing presents, travelling. But don’t let all that busyness distract you from what’s most important: we are preparing to celebrate the day awaited from almost the beginning of the creation of man, when God first promised that “the woman” would bring forth a son who would crush the serpent’s head. The day when God the Son, Creator of the Universe, to whom all angels bowed in worship, having been conceived in the womb of His mother Mary, entered the world as a poor, defenseless, vulnerable baby, to save mankind from sin and to offer us a share in his eternal life and love.

So rather than allowing all the busyness to distract you in the next few days, try to make real time to prepare yourself for this celebration. Avoid all sin. Try to show charity and compassion to your neighbor, especially your family members, at every moment—be helpful, not harmful, to family peace. And love God above everything and with everything. Take time to pray, and in your prayer place yourself in the company and care of Mary and Joseph. Imagine them travelling on the rocky roads of Galilee and Judea, from Nazareth down to Bethlehem, walking all that way or, perhaps, aided by a donkey. Imagine the cold and even freezing weather over the several days’ journey. Perhaps today, just 3 days before the birth, they were almost at the end of their journey, just a few miles away from Bethlehem. Imagine how tired And every day were a little closer, and a little colder and more tired. Think of their struggle, but also their joy. For they were not traveling alone: their Savior was with them in Mary’s womb. Travel with them these next few days in prayer. Stop from time to time at work, and wonder, “where are your now, Mary and Joseph, and Baby Jesus?” Come to church for a quiet visit, and think, “perhaps you are stopping to rest now—let me rest with you.” Accompany them on their journey—and do not get too distracted by the busyness of the season.

Advent Series. Thanks to all who attended and participated in our Advent Series on “Prayer: In Conversation with God.” We had an excellent turnout every week, but if you were unable to attend we’ve posted the audio of and handouts from all three sessions on the parish website.

Giving Tree. Thanks to all of you who gave so generously to the “Giving Tree”. Because of your kindness 34 families, 156 people, will have a little merrier Christmas this year.

Christmas Schedule. Please take time today to revisit our schedule for this week—found below in this bulletin—especially the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Sunday schedules.

Volunteer Reception. Mark your calendars: January 10 is the day for our annual reception in appreciation for all those who volunteer their time to support the activities of the parish. (Where will we find a venue big enough?) Keep your eyes on the bulletin for details, or contact your committee chairman.

Financial Milestone. I am very happy to report that the balance on the parish’s loans just went below $2 million: we owe $611,457 to the bank and $1,369,196 to the diocese. Thank you for your continuing generosity.

[Don’t Read This Until Christmas!]
My dear brothers and sisters, my beloved spiritual children in the Lord Jesus:

Blessings and peace to you all as we celebrate the Birthday of Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary, the Lord and Savior of the Universe! May Christmas be a day of joy greater than you have ever known. May it renew your faith and hope, that even in this troubled and fallen world, Christ has come to save us from sin and evil, from want and oppression, from hate and fear, to fill us with His light and grace and lead us to perfect happiness and peace. And may you rediscover, in the tiny Babe’s sweet smile, God’s boundless love for you and yours.

If you are traveling, may the angels carry you on your journeys and return you safely to us. If you are staying “in town”, I look forward to greeting you at Mass on Christmas Eve or Day.

On behalf of Fr. Kenna, Fr. Nguyen, Fr. Daly, the parish staff, and myself, may I extend our warmest wishes that you and your families have a Blessed and Merry Christmas Day, Octave and Season! May the Baby Jesus bless you and fill you with His grace, may His Mother Mary keep you in her tender embrace, and may St. Joseph protect you all the days of your life!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles